Profiles in Nursing
Edith Patton Lewis (1914-2005), Investigative Reporter and Editor
A psychiatric staff nurse, she wrote sharp pieces on the condition and career of being a nurse
Writing is a fact of life for nurses, whether it’s charting, scientific papers or our endless daily stream of texts and emails. Writing is a fact of life for nurses, whether it’s charting, scientific papers or our endless daily stream of texts and emails. However, few nurses make a career of writing as did Edith Patton Lewis, RN, MN, FAAN, who for over 35 years was a veritable fixture of nursing publications and professional journals.
Becoming a Nurse
Born in Philadelphia, Lewis studied psychology at Smith College and then went to work at a psychiatric facility. She soon concluded that she could better serve the mentally ill as a nurse than as a lay worker and joined the master of nursing program at Cleveland’s Western Reserve University (now Case Western), graduating in 1939.
After working for several years as a psychiatric staff nurse, educator and administrator, Lewis joined the editorial staff of the American Journal of Nursing (AJN). It marked the beginning of a 35-year career in publishing.
Steps in a Career
Working sometimes from the AJN Company offices in New York and sometimes from her home in Connecticut, Lewis — known as “Pat” to her friends — became a prolific professional writer, editor and reporter.
In 1952, she became the first managing editor of the new journal Nursing Research. She later served as acting editor of AJN and compiled a new edition of the company’s official history, published in 1960. Ten years later, she became editor of Nursing Outlook, a role she held until her retirement in 1980. She also helped to develop the AJN Company’s Contemporary Nursing book series, compiling and editing several volumes.